CALIFORNIA β€” Whether you’re hopping on a quick flight to San Francisco or Los Angeles or taking a scenic coastal drive down Pacific Coast Highway β€” the Golden State is brimming with staycation potential.

But what is a staycation?

By definition, this type of getaway should not require more than an hour’s flight or 6-hour drive. And luckily for Californians, there are hundreds of worthy options just a drive or quick train or plane ride away.

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From Northern California to Southern, plus the central coast in between, here are 6 ways to relax and explore the Golden State.

1. Laguna Beach

La Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach. (Kartsie Photography)

This artsy and gorgeous beachside community has everything from luxury hotels in front of sprawling beaches to hilltop vacation rental homes overlooking the lush coastal town.

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La Casa del Camino, a 93-year-old hotel in the heart of Laguna Beach, is one of Southern California’s most historic buildings.

Once a popular retreat for Hollywood celebrities and film stars in the 1920s, this renovated beachside boutique hotel is plenty unique.

“La Casa del Camino is the perfect staycation destination for Southern California travelers who are itching to get out of their homes and spend some time beachside this year,” a spokesperson for the hotel previously told Patch.


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2. Catalina Island

This small and beautiful gem off the coast of Southern California is just a one-hour ferry ride away from the mainland. Visitors can book a ferry on the Catalina Express from San Pedro, Long Beach or Dana Point to Avalon or Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island.

Visitors can explore Avalon, the island’s main community, which offers luxury hotels, spas and restaurants. Take a hike beginning at Two Harbors and wind up the hills and switchbacks to the Western side of the island. You may even see some wild buffalo left behind from a John Wayne Western. Catch incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and California Coast. You can snorkel through kelp beds and catch a view of a Garibaldi, or tap into your adventurous side and zipline on the Catalina Aerial Adventure.

3. Sonoma

Sonoma County, known for its thriving wine country, has dozens of wineries and activities readily available such as sidecar tours, whale watching, hiking and of course, wine tasting.

Visit MacArther Place Inn & Spa in the heart of the MacArther area of Sonoma, an award-winning hotel with intimate gardens, fire pits and tree canopies galore.

The property has several dining options on-site and is close to wineries and other attractions.

4. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has tons of options and beautiful weather. Enjoy the outdoors and camp at Los Prietos Campground under the tall oak trees, explore local hiking trails and head down to the beach to dip your toes in the sand. Plus, Refugio State Campground and beach are just a short drive away.

During the pandemic, the city banned vehicles from the popular State Street. Now, visitors can stroll down State Street in downtown Santa Barbara and experience the European-inspired promenade.

Learn even more about Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

5. Temecula

Family-friendly and very welcoming, the region has reopened for locals and tourists alike. (Shutterstock / David Tonelson)

Southern California’s premiere wine country can be found in Temecula Valley. Wine culture began in Temecula Valley back in 1968 when the first commercial vineyards were planted. Today, it’s an American Viticultural Area characterized by rolling, Tuscan-like hills, and an ideal Mediterranean climate. Wine lovers can plan an entire getaway around visiting nearly 50 boutique, rustic, and luxurious amenities-driven wineries.

For those who wish to enjoy the outdoors under open skies and scenic backdrops, visitors can hop into a hot air balloon. For those who wish to explore the beautiful countryside by ground, there’s hiking , golfing, horseback riding, cycling, fishing and bird watching β€” outdoor recreation can easily fill several days.

Resorts, villas, cabanas, casitas, inns, and vacation rentals are found in Wine Country among the rolling hills of vineyards. Visitors can also choose to stay in Downtown Old Town Temecula within walking distance of the historic district or Uptown at their favorite brand hotel, or in the peaceful canyon nestled in the foothills at Pechanga Resort Casino or Temecula Creek Inn. Accommodations can match any traveler’s needs and budget.

6. Monterey

Remember the magical imagery of the hazy coastline shot in HBO’s “Big Little Lies”? Well, even if you don’t, Monterey is one of the more mystical and dreamy beachside areas in the state.

Visit the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and plan your visit to see jellyfish and penguins. See Cannery Row, a historic area that features boutiques, hotels, wine tasting and dining options. Grab an ice cream sundae and take a walk near the waterfront. You can also rent bikes nearby and cruise by the waves.

Go slow and cruise. Take the drive to Carmel and walk down the main strip. Grab some coffee and delicious pastries along the way.

Plus, check out nearby Fort Ord Dunes State Park in Sand City, Calif. The first new state park campground on the California coast in 30 years featured ocean frontage in Monterey Bay when it opened in 2022. Fort Ord Dunes State Park has 4 miles of ocean beach on the bay and is located near Marina, south of Moss Landing and north of Monterey.

Patch editor Toni McAllister contributed to this report.

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